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My Theory On Elmo

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by That Announcer, Jun 9, 2005.

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  1. That Announcer

    That Announcer New Member

    Of the five newer characters (which practically are the only characters used today)- Elmo, Rosita, Zoe, Telly and Baby Bear- Telly is my favorite. He may not be a great character, but compared to the other four, he's more like the 'old' SS gand (Cookie, Bert, etc.). He in my opinion is the most believable of the lot today, and so that's why I like him. Oh- he's pretty funny too!
  2. DTF

    DTF Member

    I don't mind Baby Bear in short segments, if he improves his speech. I disliked some segments but I did like the street scenes where they found out Curly didn't like porridge, and the one where her growl is so huge. Though I think even that could come from a latent dislike of him, as that 2nd one was basically his being used as a straight man of sorts for the comical Curly growl. I just wish they'd used more older characters int hat one.

    Elmo, however, is on way too much, and just isn't all that educational. His impediment is actually worse than CM's, but for another important reason. Cookie sounds gruffer, more like a monster, and I have heard 2YOs or 3YOs get their 1st person pronouns mixed up - "I want I ice cream" or "Me want that." That's normal for a child, so it makes sense that it'd be normal for a monster.

    But, while several friends have assured me their kids don't try to copy Elmo's talk, it's totally abnormal for a child to keep inserting 3rd person into 1st person - the only poeple who do that are egotistical ballplayers and probably some Hollywood stars :)

    And, you can picture CM shouting "Me want cookie!" just as he's about to graab and gobble up a cookie, the plate, maybe some silverware, too. It's actually less logical to picture him as a refined gentleman saying "I am going to eat this cookie and the plate and the table..."

    But, it's totally un-monster-like for Elmo to say "Elmo wants to play ball. Does Telly want to play ball with Elmo?" His voice is not that of a monster, nor are his actions or attitudes, whereas Cookie Monster, 90% of the time when he's talking like that, it stands to reason that he's more than a little excited, and sometimes kids when they're excited sort of lapse back a bit in their language. ("Gimme" instead of give me, please" for instance.)
  3. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    Remember though that Telly has been around for a while (since the 70s) so he can hardly be called a "new" character. I gotta give him props though. He has lasted a long time (and in the street segments) and isn't considered to be one of the more popular characters from what I can tell. You are right, he is very convincing as the neurotic, constant worrier. He is almost a hypocondriac, like many other kids out there.
  4. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    You are right on about Elmo. He has taken over a bit too much lately, but the character is great for young kids to relate to. In recent years, the audiences have been younger, hence Elmo's coming out.
    I don't think Bert and Ernie are meant to represent children. They are basically ageless, meaning they are not intended to represent any specific age group. They are two friends and we can probably just assume they are in their "young" 20s. Grover is another one of these. He is supposedly representing the psychological age of a four year old, but is not necessarily a "child", especially nowadays. The character seems to have matured a lot, especially since Elmo came about. He is still cute and lovable, but he is more like Elmo's older brother type. He is the teacher of the show. He is the one to explain all the basic concepts. He does them the hard way, but we always get the point of his lessons. Big Bird has grown up a little too, in my opinion. He is still a kid, but a little older it seems. In recent years, I feel he has gone from 6 to maybe 8. Cookie Monster is not really a child but shows childlike qualities. Prairie, I feel, definitely shows her age well as a bright 7 year old. Just some thoughts.
  5. DTF

    DTF Member

    I read once, maybe here, that Big Bird was originally said to be 4, very early, and then was 6; nowadays, 8 is probably about right.

    Praire as a bright 7 is very true, I see a good deal of a couple girl cousins of mine when they were that age in her.

    The other ages make sense, too - B&E reminded me of my childhood dream of having a little brother, but were just as much modeled on a Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello (okay, maybe that's going a little far back, but modeled on great adult cmoedy duos, to be sure.) They may be as timeless as anyone. It's a shame we don't see them ont he street, although getting a classic clip every day is very good. And I just wonder if they're not teaching in ways we don't notice. Because, I see the 2 nephews of my good friend, and when the younger one does something to drive the older one crazy, I can just see Bert in that grumbling growl the older one makes. A good way to teach children to act rather than hitting back or something.
  6. That Announcer

    That Announcer New Member

    Whoops, my bad. I count any character given a good sized role after Marty Robinson took over Mr. Snuffleupagus as 'new', so you can't go by me!

    I also go with the idea of Elmo's speech impediment being worse than Cookie's. Think about it- Cookie, for starters, isn't on that much. Cookie is usually seen by himself, and usually only doing one thing. And besides, many kids already talk a lot like Cookie. Elmo, on the other hand, is bad. Why? His 'third person talk' is not something that comes naturally. Can you imagine if every kid took on him as a role model? One guy in my class did, and he's a real dolt!

    Unrelated: Does Elmo's voice remind anybody else of Mike Tyson talking whilst scratching a butterknife on a window?
  7. DTF

    DTF Member

    And when he does it, well, many kids might talk some like him, which means they'd be much more likely to if they ever ate like him :) I have only seen one child even on tV eat like him, though, and none in real life. (The one on TV - Michelle, on Full House, crawling on the table and consuming a whole bunch of chocolate cake samples at once.)
  8. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    Once in a while you will find them on the street. Mostly Ernie I would imagine. In fact, just yesterday, I was surprised to see Ernie hanging out on the street with everyone. It was Bert's bday and Ernie's gift to him was "peace and quiet" because that is what Bert said he wanted. So, Ernie goes out to play out on the street trying really hard not to go check on Bert cuz he missed him. The others (Gordon, Big Bird, Snuffy, etc.) try to keep him from checking on Bert seeing that Ernie keeps his promise. Later, Bert starts to get tired of reading his new book and misses Ernie so he goes out and plays with his friends.
    Anyone else see this one?
  9. SillyRed

    SillyRed Member

    Yup, I remember seeing this one. They all decided to celebrate Bert's Birthday!!
  10. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    It is true that B & E are rarely on the street these days. The closest we get most of the time is Journey to Ernie. I even find that Ernie is seen more often than Bert. Sometimes Bert will be there, but is it true to say that they are not on the street TOGETHER very much?
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I always wondered... were Ernie and Bert ever really on the street when Jim and Frank were performing them? I mean, especially during the run of the Muppet show, most of the puppeteers were off in England filming. Maybe during breaks? I dunno, I wasn't alive then, but I don't recall too many Ernie and Bert episodes. Just the taped inserts.

    Personally, I always felt the animosity towards Elmo was directed at the fact that Elmo represents the "New era" of Sesame Street, since he seemed to usher it in. I am not a fan of Elmo's world as a segment of the show, and as I've said many a time, it should be a sepperate show (I mean, there are sepperate videos). You know, for the youngest of Young viewers? I like the character of Elmo, and find it fascinating such a tall dude who has to be at least 30+ who plays such diverse characters can perform a totally believable child.

    I feel that the new characters popularity and roles in the show evolved from the fact that in 1993 (the rebirth) we had previously lost Jim Henson, Richard Hunt, Joe Raposso, and Frank Oz was less and less involved with Puppetry and more involved in film (since the late 80's, I think. Jim's death galvinized his insecurities). Durning this time we had new performers and new characters surfaced. Some stuck, some didn't. Even Dave Golez stuck around for a while (I don't know how long, but it was very brief).

    SO, Elmo, Rosita, Baby Bear, and Zoe stuck, out of countless one shots that never made it (even now, thy don't have any perminant new new characters). Zoe was introduced to have a strong female monster in the series, Rosita as well, plus she taught Spanish and tolerance for minorities, and Baby Bear... well... I guess he evolved from David Rudman wanting to play a character.

    Personally, I have a love hate thing about Baby Bear. He does give Telly someone to talk to, and when he was with Goldilocks, he was very funny... but I HATE the Hero Guy segments.
  12. That Announcer

    That Announcer New Member

    I agree with you 100%, but still...

    Telly's believability goes back to the beginning of SS. Why? All the characters then (save Big Bird, and I never found him believable as a character either) were adults. Grover was a working stiff; Cookie, well, he seems like a man in his 40s; Ernie and Bert were probably going through college; Oscar was that 50 year old guy everybody used to know that would tell us to "Turn that radio down!" Telly is more than clearly a neurotic middle-aged man.

    Elmo, on the other hand, is a child. What's moreso, he is a child in a world of... well, children. Zoe is a child, Baby Bear is a child, "Hewo Guy" (as much as I hate him) is a child, Rosita is a child, Big Bird is a child. What happened to the adults that made the children believable? Now, the only adults we have are the human adults, the ones that run the stores! It's impossible!

    And I agree with you about the origins of Baby Bear. He always seems 'stuck in' with a group of... well, I lied again. All the Muppets now are what could be called 'forced personality Muppets.' A great example of this kind of Muppet is Pepe. I dearly love him, but, he has his negative sides. His problem lies in the way his personality is written out. He is supposed to be a Spanish (or maybe Mexican) Muppet with a hankerin' for love. However, he takes it too far by hitting on everyone from Piggy to Dorothy.

    Elmo lies in this same paradox. Cookie Monster is not only a loud, cookie-devouring guy, but has his soft side as well. Grover is happy most of the time, but has had sad moments. Oscar even got nice towards the last while of the show. On the other hand, Elmo is one-sided. He's ALWAYS happy. He is never sad, and when he is, all it takes is a belly tickle and he's back to "Ha ha hee hee! MIST-ah Noodle! Ha ha ha!"
    Baby Bear is the same way, as I said before. He is one-sided, one-dimensional and holds little to no depth as a character. Again, who's practically free of this problem? It's Telly again! He is neurotic, as was Boober; but he sometimes is happy and carefree. Telly is a return to the 'classic' Muppets. Elmo, Baby Bear and Zoe- not at all.

    We need a return to Muppets with actual personalities. It's so odd that in the entire Elmo's World segments, Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle (Michael Jeter) has more dimension in three minutes and no words than Elmo does in twenty minutes and five hundred words. Go figure.
  13. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    That Announcer, I will agree with you on many counts here in regards to Elmo and Telly. Telly is dimensional. Baby Bear, like Elmo, is not very dimensional. I think that mostly the original characters, or the ones that have been around for the majority of the SS run have great ranges of personality and emotion and depth. I will mainly include in this group Big Bird (obviously), Bert, Ernie, Grover, Cookie, Prairie, Telly, Snuffy, Herry and even Oscar. Oscar has tremendous depth. I actually might say he is the most complex of all. I think Rosita might be coming along. Part of the reason the newer Muppets seem one-dimensional could be in part due to the fact that they are still new (Zoe, Baby Bear). Their personalities could still be developing and growing as time goes on and the Muppeteer learns more about the character and comes up with new things. In the very beginning, that is pretty much how Oscar, Cookie and Big Bird were. They were pretty flat compared to how they are now. Now maybe Baby B and Zoe won't evolve and they will remain the same. Who knows? lets give them a little more time.
    Also, I want to mention that I think The Count has become a great character to have around. I am seeing more and more wisdom in him all the time. He is probably the wise, sage-ish adult Muppet on the street. Yeah, I know he is crazy and goes insane. But he always knows what to say and what is going on. He has answers. My favorite Count moment of all time was in Elmo Saves Christmas when he explains to Elmo "My little red chum, when it's Christmas every day, Christmas is no longer special. Too bad. I loved counting Christmas cards." Hey, since Kermit went out of town, someone has to fill that role.
  14. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

    there's no way telly was around is SS's early days because i didn't see them till the late 70/early 80s.
  15. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member


    Sure, those were early days. Atleast compared to now they were. That is around the time I was born (1981) and started watching. If that is about the time Telly was introduced, then he has been around for approx. 25 years. The show first aired in 1969. That is almost 3 quarters of the SS run.
  16. That Announcer

    That Announcer New Member

    Well, he wasn't. Telly premiered in 1979, when he was performed by Brian Muehl. Marty Robinson took his role in 1984. Still, that's the "early days" for me- before Elmo became such a bloody daunting presence!
  17. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    I dunno...maybe everyone has a different idea of what the "early days" were. It might be something we can make a true poll about. Some people consider it to be pre-Follow That Bird, which was before 1985 (the same year Elmo moved to the street). Others say the Hooper years which was (around the same time) 1969-1983. Lets make a real poll.
  18. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    I've probably mentioned this in my other anti-Elmo rants, but I share Kiersten's annoyance over the little red guy's refusal to use "I" and "me". (Ingeborg thinks Elmo needs to learn proper English! :) ) In all fairness to the kids who watch Sesame Street today, though...I grew up hearing Cookie Monster's warped grammar but never talked like him myself. If that can happen, then I'm sure that Elmo's third-person speech pattern won't get in the way of a kid learning how to use "I" and "me" correctly. TV isn't the only place people get exposed to language, after all!
  19. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    I don't usually watch SS much anymore, typically because it A) makes me feel old and B) ... is not the SS I grew up with. However, I've had to accept the deaths of my childhood heroes (Henson, Rogers, Lewis, Kangaroo). It can never really be the same, I guess.

    Elmo needs to take it down a notch. Only in a cult maybe would you see the same people in your neighborhood, so a change of cast doesn't HAVE to be a disaster. However, if you're going to retire characters ... at least give them some closure ... an ending ... so you're not just muscling in on them for apparently no reason. Elmo's personality is also overbearingly irritating. He's too hyper. At least when Gonzo does crazy stunts, you learn that he does that (at least, it's my theory, anyway) because he knows he's different so he embraces it. There is no (as far as I know, since I don't really watch anymore) deep-seated reason for Elmo to act the way he does without some sort of neurological disorder :D

    I watched a little today, just to see ... and for 20 min, I see Baby Bear (if they still need a Jr Gorg, I pick Clash, if he'd just go deeper), Telly (whom I love dearly), Prairie Dawn (I don't recall her having such a good hairdo ... love it, btw). I've learned long ago to skip the last ten minutes or so because of Mr. Attn-seeker. Saw Ernie and Bert, but it wasn't a classic sketch. Not bad, I guess. Just ... it felt weird. I'm still not used Steve's Ernie or the new Bert. I also think the mannerisms are slightly off.

    Anyway, back to Elmo. SS was a show you felt you could still watch into your adulthood. Not anymore. I feel like age 6 or so is SS's Hurling Day. Might as well jump off a cliff ... you're not going to like it, otherwise.
  20. ISNorden

    ISNorden Active Member

    Agreed on all points! First, Sesame Street simply can't be the same without the same people behind it: a TV show that's run as long as it has, will inevitably deal with changes in both the production staff and the audience. An educational show, too, has to deal with changing theories about what the audience should be learning and when; a lot of classic material from our childhood will never air again because of those changes.

    Second, I don't dislike Elmo as much as I used to; it's not CTW's fault that he evolved from a likable supporting character into an annoying spotlight-stealer. (If anybody deserves to be blamed, I'd blame the toy marketers for selling those "Tickle Me" dolls so aggressively!) Knowing how kids reacted to those EW-free episodes last season, I support a suggestion that someone else made here: run EW when an episode's plot does NOT focus on Elmo, but drop it when the plot does. That way, kids get to see their favorite character without his dominating Sesame Street unreasonably...

    And third, I wish the CTW writers had been more consistent when a major character (someone who appears in a lot of stories and/or clips) gets retired. If human characters can't leave without an "in-universe" explanation, then why should Muppet characters vanish into thin air? True, killing off every Muppet whose performer has died would eliminate too many characters; but there's got to be another way to give those write-offs a backstory.


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